2013 Mar - Apr / El Carmen mission trip (part 2)

23Mar2013

This is the 2nd part of the blog for this trip.  As with earlier Lily's blog (same trip), here's a link to all the photos from this mission construction trip.  William blogging now.  With Lily, being the bilingual one, doing so much (negotiation, accounting, interfacing, etc.) she volunteered me to take over her blog … so, from a different perspective, I will give it a try.   Just as an opener, for those that wonder where in Peru we are doing this work, I have recently provided an actual entry on this little village of El Carmen and district of San Juan Bautista onto Wikipedia.  [links provided].

Thursday, March 21 was unique in that, as she said, we had 3 crews working simultaneously on different things (metal work [welding, cutting]; demolition of adobe structure, general contracting, not counting what we are doing as the 'fourth crew".  With that in mind we stopped to ‘pray about it’ in our little ‘casita’ asking God's guidance to get through this day and the next.   At the end of the prayer I took a picture of what the welder left outside our screen door (one of our security barbs left on a single pole with the angle to our prayer position was displayed as a perfect cross).  Thank you Lord! 

Friday, March 22 – more buzy-ness, as we wind down on phase 1, we got a new change order (phase 2) priced out which covers what Lily talked about on Tuesday (completion of floor of 2nd floor, overhang over carport area.  This will run s/3,500 (approximately $1,300).  With that in mind, they already started digging for the overhang in what used to be our casita kitchen, reducing us to three fourths of what we previously had.  (picture).  

The columns they are manufacturing to go into these two locations to support the upper overhang of the second floor are 'humongous'!  (picture).

We also made more progress on widdling away at the former neighbors house (Raymundo) but the progress with Leon was slow.  We worked out a deal with the general contractor for him to take over that part of the demolition and just charge us for the labor.    Tonight we did a lot of internal disassembly of our bathroom anticipating loosing that tomorrow … going to be like living on a boat, but with an external commode! ;-) 

Got a good picture of the departing crew.  It seems that a lot of discussion between them is around what does this or that mean or how do you say this or that in Quechua, the native indian language.  Half of them know the language and the others don’t.  It reminds me of 2nd generation Mexicans in southern California who forget how to speak Spanish.   All though all of them come from the mountains and have Incan roots (as does my wife even), only the current people who live up there still speak the language, as it is not a language of the coast.  There is no similarity between the two languages, since obviously they are of different root.  

I met someone in LA at the airport who was headed down here to spend time with a long lost Incan tribe that was discovered in 1969 or so, that the Spaniards missed, very high up in the Andes.  They are getting support from many volunteer organizations to help them to maintain their culture, sun god worship and all.  He told me they refused to have their DNA checked by National Geographic's worldwide project though.  Will have to look for that website this gentleman (more of a hippy type) gave me.  I will include it here.  http://qerofoundation.wordpress.com/

Saturday, March 23 – Well this morning we got the rest of the bathroom pretty much disassembled and our contractor got on the adobe demolition work that was hindering our progress in installing two huge columns.  These columns are humongous but are needed to be that big to hold the weight of the 2nd floor that will overhang the carport area in the front, pretty much a 30 foot expanse.  Leon and Cona, our two regular workers, spent the day completing the pad in the back of the construction project where our little casita will eventually be totally relocated. 

We are somewhat in a muddle at the moment in that the contractor tells us our toilet and sink have to go (now totally outdoors anyway) but he hasn’t run the sewer and water for us to install new ones on the new pad.  

His dilemma being that the sewer line will go right down the middle of the building where his workers spend all day walking back and forth.   Looks like we will be using the bathroom of the neighbors for a few days if this doesn’t get resolved soon!! 

Sunday, March 24 - Off to church, although we got a late start.  caught some worship and comradery but missed the message ... drat.  Lily translates for me anyway, but this church (El Shaddai) has such a spiritual presense about it, you don't even have to speak the language to know God is here.  Met with pastor Martin and his wife afterward, and informed him that he was about to go on YouTube for his leadership last week in "Victoria, la Victoria mia es" song.  He laughed.  Let's see how many hit's he gets.   I will post the link here when I get it posted.  Ah, here it is:  http://youtu.be/ffAbWjkDd10

We discussed a few matters with Pastor, plans for the name of the mission, discussions had with the Corban property folks in Wisconsin, and a few other administrative matters.  Most of all, we are very interested in having many outreaches in August at the mission when we return, even though it will be far from finished.  

Monday, March 25 - finally got the contractor to do some sewer work ahead of schedule in light of our 'casita' being moved from the front to the back of the lot, and the destruction of our 'banos' (bathroom).   Had three of our 10 walls moved, much more to do on this mini-project this week.

Tuesday, March 26 -  Finished digging and positioning two large columns, adding height to the adobe wall around the new casita location.  Went to Maestro and brought back a great amount of rebar, 40 more bags of concrete, sewer pipe, etc.   

Wednesday, March 27 -  Recieved another 5 cubic meters of sand and 5 cubic meters of gravel for all the concrete work going on.   $173 for the record!  Can't count the number of these deliveries we have had!  Our contractor cut in the sewer lines to our relocated Casita in the back of the construction site ... what a relief since the original bathroom is now history!! ;-)

Thursday, March 28 - Actually poured the footings around the humongous columns in the front drive area.  Also poured the 'legamento', between the columns and the rest of the house, which is the base footing.  After this is hard, then another footing is poured on top of that which will then allow for additional brickwork.    

Friday, March 29 - Added the 'sobre-cemiento', the footings, rebar and concrete on top of the larger 'legamento' ground footing.  Tomorrow ... more brick!! ;-)   Finalized a lot of electrical work in the relocated 'casita', so now we have lights, outlets (again).  Got our contractor to add water lines to the replumbing of our little house.  Nothing like the comfort of a flush toilet when you are living on the job site! ;-)  Finalized some plumbing to-do’s at the casita, reactivating some hose bibs in the back lot, installing a water shutoff in the front.   We had installed an exterior motion detector light a few days earlier that is apparently not working and I have to check it, fix it or return it.  Up the ladder work with an electrical item over a water pond is not my favorite task.  Think I will disconnect it first! ;-)  Will add ‘small screw drivers’ to the shopping list for later today.

Took the ‘Collectivo’ (shared shuttle) into town primarily to get some more material ordered and pick up a few things.   On the way Lily realized that she forgot her credit card, DNI card (primary ID), and our shopping list (both our own as well as the one the contractor gave us a few days earlier that we have been using as a guide).   So, we ‘winged’ it from memory with my credit card.  Tried to reach Jaime, our delivery man, by phone but no luck.   When we got to Maestro, we found him there.   He was ready to deliver tomorrow whatever we ordered today!   He wanted some reassurance that I was OK with eating Cui Sunday night at his church and I assured him (with my broken Spanish) that I was looking forward to it!! ;-)

We ordered a mil (thousand) of brick, and 80 sticks of ½ inch (heavy) rebar.   Picked up a few other minor items that we needed for the ‘casita’ (light bulb, door latches, etc.).   We gave Jaime a copy of the pickup order for tomorrow’s delivery and headed to  Plaza del Sol, the mall where our favorite internet coffee shop is.  

Along the way we ran into a lot of street vendors selling food, candles (for the festival), balloons, toys, etc.  It seems that the annual Easter festival is the biggest thing going on with the Catholic people in this country, which is as it should be considering what this event means to Christianity and our faith.  It is called Semana Santa,  or in English, Holy Week.  It’s actually just a long weekend, people starting to take off from work Thursday, different celebrations around town on Friday but the big one is all night Friday and we being in the city ended up in the middle of it.   Lots of people! 

Fascinating street art for the festival done by a lot of youth it seems.  Reminds me of the years I spent working on the Rose Bowl floats in Pasadena, lots of colors but with flowers where this seems to be mostly colored sawdust.  Also this art is not mobile and is done one day and assumedly gone the next day (or two?) since it is actually done on the roadway.   Wish I could get about 100 feet in the air to take pictures of the work as it is just too large to capture right on top of it. 

Apparently this festival  in Ica has as a core ‘relic’ of focus the Senor de Luren (Lord of Lurens), based on a mural image of Christ.  This festival that has been going on here for 100 years or more, or as long as Lily can remember .. will have to Google it!   The origin of the importance of this image to the people is that there was an earthquake and the image did not come down, so the people feel that is evidence of God and the image is the annual focus of the festival, as it parades slowly down the street.  There is a similar festival in Lima, called ‘Senor de los Milagros’ (Lord of the Miracles).   That one was a statue of the crucifix.  Apparently Spain wanted to ship that one back to their country but every time they got ready to, the shipping container was either too large or to small, hence  the ‘legend’ and perhaps the miracle .. (it didn’t want to go? ;-).   Need to do some verification as these two are from memory from Lily, and she admits that she might be flip-flopping on which is which.

All of the cities or villages in Peru seem to have some kind of image, statue, relic, or focus of a past miracle, or Christian historical person that they parade and follow in procession with candles on Easter weekend.    In El Carmen, for instance, they use ‘Virgin of El Carmen’ as a focus of their procession or worship parade.  Jesus Christo is no stranger to Peru, at all, however truly knowing him versus just “having religion”, that is the  goal of LAMA.   Anyway, the art was great, the crowd was large, and the people are always fantastic.  There are always street vendors so we got some Papa Fritas y Pollo  (Chicken and fries) before entering the mall to go do some internet stuff. 

There was one more street vendor (isn’t there always?) selling music but it caught Lily’s ear as it was a beautiful Spanish Christian song that she wanted to get, Tu Estas Aqui (You are here).  We talked to the vendor and the artist singing it was ‘Jesus Adrian Romero’ and he was great, and the two DVDs were only 5 soles (less than $2)!  Lily had the vendor play both disks before I gave all 5 soles, my entire Peruvian cash at the moment, for my wife’s musical interest.  Had some brief conversations with the vendor, who is a Christian.   The normal price (marked) on the DVDs was 15 soles (still a great bargain), not sure why he was selling them so cheap ,  perhaps trying to witness a bit to all the religious people that were out.   Also Romero was going to be in Ica performing this Saturday and the other primary artist featured was going to perform in Lima.   Anyway, it is definitely great music to bring back to the USA and to also use at the mission when finished. 

We got to the internet coffee shop rather late and didn’t want to stay more than an hour since the  ‘collectivo’ (car shuttle system) gets a bit sparse after 9pm at least to get people back to El Carmen where the mission is.  On top of that, there were a lot of festival activities on the street making traffic much worse, and hence the fares are a little higher.   So, while planning to get out by 9pm in actuality we got out closer to 10pm to try to make it back home. 

As we started to walk up the very busy street full of people (remember they are planning an all-nighter!) the crowd was getting tighter and tighter and the reason was apparently we were approaching the focus of the festival, the Senor de Luren image, which was inching down the street.  They block off a mile square and the image stops and there are singers, and chorus, and many people packed in giving homage to this important religious symbol.

We kept trying to press forward along with others slowly moving on the sidewalk in the direction toward the downtown plaza, where the collectivo stop is.  We were carrying packages making it more difficult and trying to stay on the front of the very narrow ‘stream’ of forward moving bodies.  We did see our neighbor in the crowd with her son and granddaughter Adriana, who did not look like she was enjoying the crowd at all! ;-)   Actually it was an interesting experience, a true culture representation of Peru and this particular one of Ica.  If we did not live 40 minutes north and have limited transportation, the later it got, and were not carrying packages, we would have probably stayed longer and enjoyed it more.

Anyway, as we were not moving too fast in this crowd, I was thinking that this route was really a bad idea.  We should have routed over a block or two around the procession and then moved toward our destination.  We ended up getting stopped just past the ‘image’ and in front of a performing stage, for a short while and then the thin trail of forward moving bodies started moving again.  Reminded me of a few pop festivals I attended in my youth .. and glad I am not still going! ;-)  

We finally got to a block and I insisted to Lily that we take a hard left and get out of this crowd.  Lily agreed so we did.  As we did we got to some lady that would not let us pass and actually got two of her associates (son, husband?) to add to her blocking us, while uttering something about “Jesus Christo, no pasa”.  I told Lily and she tried to talk to her and got a similar response.  It was a bit strange, but we went around another body or two.    Within a half block we could actually resume normal walking … wow, what a claustrophobic experience.   Anyway, we started to do some blocks but our carrying stuff was getting a bit straining so we got a three wheeler motor-taxi  to take us the rest of the way (50 cents higher on the fare do to the hassle factor he had to put up with! ;-)

It was a circuitous route, but our cabby did get us to our collective stop and lucky us, we had one waiting for two more people so we loaded up and made the drive north.   It’s not a bad ride to San Juan Bautista, which is actually the equivalent of the ‘county seat’ to where El Carmen is part of.  The problem is between San Juan Bautista and El Carmen the roads are all gravel.  They were paved not too long ago but apparently, not long after getting paved, the government decided to put in a sewer system.  Good idea, bad sequence of planning … so now, not only are there no paved roads for the last 8 kilometers (distance between San Juan Bautista and El Carmen) but there are many raised manhole covered sewer points that will someday be level with a paved road again … but who knows when!!

Getting home, close to 11pm by now, Lily got a bit panicked in looking for her missing credentials (credit card and DNI card, with our shopping lists, many receipts, etc.).  Eventually, after a good 45 minutes looking, she did find them (we actually walked the construction site with our little pocket flashlight wondering where they went … found them in the tool box, go figure). 

We ended the day watching many Christian singing videos, from our DVD purchase. 

Saturday, 3/30 – Got up early and started counting brick that we had versus what we needed, got the water ready for the contractor (my morning task, since the water comes on and is off before he gets to the site).   We are really trying to minimize buying any extra materials that will not get used and will sit here on the site until August when we return.   In calculating the brick, it appeared, that other than a short carport wall that we will probably put off till August, we had enough for our needs today (about a mil of brick on the site) and really didn’t need the mil we had scheduled for today.   I pointed out this discovery to Lily and she put a call to Jaime to postpone the delivery.  She verified with Abel (our contractor) that it was not needed either (which makes me wonder why they were asking for it yesterday when I inquired … probably my bad grasp of Spanish).   

Another  reason we need to keep material quantities down is that  this coming week the job site will start to look like a forest as they install rebar for the ceiling and put all the support poles in place.  There will be little room to store anything in the building itself.  This will need us to get more rebar, and most likely many ceiling/floor brick.  This brick is much more of a honeycomb design, minimizing weight.   We had earlier discussed a new system with the contractor where they are now using Styrofoam for this purpose, and they sell it everywhere.  However, our contractor was not familiar with it and Lily didn’t want to take risks having him ‘experiment’ with our mission building for his first attempt! ;-)   

So, after confirming that brick is NOT something that is needed, the order was stopped and we are making plans to go to town tomorrow before services, to place a replacement material order, for Tuesday delivery.  

The work today was to finish up the brick, add our missing fourth wall (in front) which is not very much brick since it will have two large windows and a double door.  The contractors also added two walls of solid brick, one on either side of the 3 car wide carport.   With this done today, still leaving about 300 brick for future use (glad we didn’t get that thousand delivered today!), they will pour columns tomorrow, Sunday.  Monday, they start to work on the ceiling and we will make a few material runs.  Abel wants us to start bringing in the ceiling brick, about 1200 total.  Apparently that’s two shipments, no more than 600 per load.  So on we go ….  Need to get the order in tomorrow when we go to town for church, I do hope that Maestro is open but being Easter I am not sure.   We are scheduled to go to Pisco, an hour north, on Monday for business/family reasons and this will be some juggling.   

And to add to the chaos, we have the ‘festival’ extensions that reach El Carmen, with a large music social event going on the school courtyard across the street from us.  I remember a year ago that this music went till 3am … so where are those ear-plugs! ;-)

Sunday, March 31 – 8 days left before we head home, and only 6 to get things done here at the mission!  A lot is still needed to get done and a short time to do it.  Our primary focus will be with the ceiling creation on the property, plus a side trip to Pisco tomorrow, and winding down and securing the property until next trip in August.  We bought our bus tickets to Lima for next Sunday early since there is a great savings, except it is not for Friday-Sunday travel .. drat.    Oh well, at least we have them.   After we spend one night in Lima, we fly to the USA on Monday.  Praying for a very productive week!   

Anyway, today  .... 3/31 -  last night, loaded the barrels with water, did some liter removal in front,  neighbor Romundo dropped over after he got his bread.  He told me that the book I loaned him 3 weeks ago ("There is a Heaven") touched him greatly.  He just finished it and many words were not familiar to him but the story of the pastor, his struggle, his son and family communicated so well to him that it made him cry.  I related to him that I told him it was a "good news" book and knew it would touch him.  He said it made him cry, it touched him so much.  We then prayed together and he saw that I could cry for the good news as well.  Anyway, need to keep working on Romundo.   I keep Romundo in my prayers.  

We then discussed a few minor construction issues.  It was an overall good morning moment.  Workers showed up.   Lily and I left for church.  Guest speaker at services was a visIting Lima pastor/nerosurgeon and his wife.  Lily translated their message to me.  Many miracles were spoken about by the pastor.  His wife of five years apparently came to the Lord in Ica at El Shaddai church and relayed a spirited story of her looking her father at age of ten and being the first Christian in her family.  She enjoyed her mother coming to the Lord a few years ago.   Overall wonderful service, talked to pastor and his wife at the end of the service since we may not see them again until August.  He prayed on the name for our mission and came up with "Central Christiano San Juan Bautista".  He and I were in agreement on this last week, as I like the mission having more of an appeal than just El Carmen where it is located.  

Off to Maestro,  the internet cafe to get this posted, and then on to 'second service' at Jaime's church in Santiago and my first taste of Cuy!! ;-)

Monday, April 1 – a new month and a new week, much to get done.   Before we went to bed, we talked to our Pisco contacts and that trip was postponed till Wednesday.  Today was pretty much a lot of column work by the crew, having built the woodwork frames for 4 of them.  They also did the first and only PVC sleeve formwork for our central round column.  It was interesting to see the crew slip a 3 meter long by 32 cm wide PVC pipe down over the rebar work made for it.   So they framed and poured 5 of the remaining 6 columns today.   This left one column, one of the ‘humongous’ ones,  of the 20 we have to be framed and poured for another day.   

The crew also did a lot of ‘tree planting’ for the upper ceiling work.  This involves a lot of wooden scaffold creation positioning leveling that will be followed by a lot of rebar and special floor/ceiling brick and then concrete.  They say they will do all this by end of week … wow, it’s going to be a busy week.

Also had a good amount of progress recreating our bathroom in the casita we stay in on the property. 

Tuesday, April 2 – Crew stripped the wood off the 4 columns they poured yesterday, and reframed and poured the last column.  Our central column is still in it’s PVC wrappings, to be opened tomorrow.  A lot more framing work was also done for the pending ceiling creation. 

Delivery!! Received 1200 ceiling brick!  Was a bit active in the onloading of the first of two trucks for that one.   Jaime was the driver of the first truck but was followed by a second that he arranged as well.  These brick are not heavy as much as bulky.   Thank God for a great neighbor who let us stack them all up in front of their house as the crew works the supply down between now and Saturday.  Quatro mas diaz!! (I reminded the contractor!).  A lot to do in four days!!    Off to Pisco tomorrow morning, make a stop at Maestro for one more order of concrete and rebar, and back by 2pm most likely. 

Pretty much finished up the brickwork in our bathroom in our new casita location.  At the end of the job, Lily leaned on some not yet done portion and we will have to have that redone!! ;-)  oops!   

Wednesday, Apr 3 - A lot of progress is made on the roof of the first floor, floor of the second.  Final formwork removed from last (20th!) column.  Unbelievable what this crew can do in such a short time.   I will still be amazed if all the rebar, concrete and block is installed in the 3 remaining days.

thursday, Apr 4 

Just left Maestro putting in a huge order for rebar and concrete (175 bags)  that will arrive in three trucks today and tomorrow ... remember we are leaving Sunday for Lima so, and these guys will supposedly have all this installed and used when we do?   

Hmmmm 

Also went to our favorite internet cafe and got a few emails out.  Caught up with Mercedes, our Engineer who has been really hard to meet with this trip.  Much planning, re-do of plans (expansion of size), her efforts with permits, etc. needed to be gone over.  


Got back to the Mission and had 90 bags of concrete and a lot of rebar delivered.   And this was the day that most of the concrete block got placed up on the second floor.  

Friday, Apr 5 - Lily went back to Maestro in Ica to add 5 more sticks of rebar to our planned final deliver of another 85 bags of concrete, while I stayed to meet the contractor and get the water ready.  Had a minor flood that almost got our 90 bags of concrete wet .. but averted it!  

Lily arrived with Jaime (our driver) and his son (Jaime Junior) and we got the rest of the concrete unloaded.  yet to pour the first bucket of concrete and we are leaving for Lima tomorrow!  Lots of supplies coming in and deadlines approaching!  Much labor going on the roof these past few days, with all this rebar.  Creating rebar assemblies, laying them in place between the columns,   I returned to Ica, with Lily, Jaime and Jaime Jr, so I could do a couple of minor tasks .. get a haircut (looking rather wooly!) and some geographic mapping data of this part of Peru for internet use with Wikipedia, and our website.  Interesting how little is 'online' about the geographic makeup of this part of Peru.

Returned to Mission site in early afternoon to continue to watch the "buzy-ness" of what is going on, and the hopeful 'consumption' of all these material purchases.  We do not want a lot of materials 'left over' just sitting around for four months, especially the concrete which can go bad if not used.

Saturday, Apr 6 - Still too much work to do before actually concrete pouring, so the 182 bags of concrete remain downstairs untouched as the crew works miticulously to form, assemble, wire, shape, lay, install, place 'mucho fiero' (much rebar)!  The stairs is all formed, but not poured.  The electrical conduit for the first floor lighting is being put in place.   We had a good amount of discussion on low voltage conduit work as well, placement, when, what, where.   Interesting wiring challenges in this form of construction since there really are no hollow walls, all brick and concrete.  The first floor is still dirt, so our electrical, both high voltage and low will eventually be placed in the floor down there.  Don't want to do the same thing for the second floor since the lighting does so much criss-crossing of conduit, so we will run the low voltage for the second floor when the final ceiling concrete work is done (future work).  Wondering when the 2nd floor high voltage is laid and if in the floor or ceiling?  Oh well, will worry about that in August or next year! ;-) 

Later that evening I caught some left over late Easter procession going down the street of El Carmen.  Lily thought the 'image' used in this village was of the virgin Mary but apparently not.  Followed the procession a bit and caught some of the villagers on one of their many pauses.  

Sunday, Apr 7 - concrete pouring starts!  An army of men, each with their own bucket, arrived early in the morning, climbing on our neighbors roof, asking for the plyers in my back pocket, assembling a ramp between houses for the planned 'bucket brigade' that was about to occur.  Massive amount of work to be done, and we are only here to see a half days worth before our taxi picks us up at noon. 

First the ramp assembly, occuring simultaneously to relocation of most of the concrete bags to go accross the street as we again do our best to block the traffic in our little town with this effort towards full employment for the day! ;-) 

 It's like watching a bee hive at full production on days like this.  Actually a bit nervous to be leaving this site with so much activity going on but our neighbor will be the final list checker and property security checker at the end of the day.  

Monday, Apr 8 - Good nights sleep, got over to a Lima neighbor's house to do some quick emails, before we took off to the airport.  Excessive traffic, but got a good advance to get to the airport in plenty of time to have a light lunch (airport prices are high internationally! ;-) and get a 3 movie flight home to Los Angeles (Quartet,  The Help, and some 3rd movie I couldn't finish that was great ... hate that!  now I'll have to rent it to see the last 15 minutes I missed! ;-)  Anyway, home and chaos at the airport .. long lines through customs, but finally got through and got to spend our first night in the USA!   Very productive trip!

 

Blog complete ... until August!  6+ people going on this next trip, that is going to include a lot of outreach.  Do consider joining.

Some low resolution photos were sent to us from Abel, our onsite contractor, of the site after he did some clearing of all the support poles.

exterior - leftexterior view looking at center of buildingExterior - right of center

The above three photos (click to enlarge) show basically left, center and partial right of the front of the building, from the exterior courtyard area.  The exterior area will be rather good size in the front, and fully enclosed for security.  Although all artist renderings show it's purpose for securing vehicles, we are thinking that there will be many other uses for it.  

Two interior shots (click to enlarge):

interior main room and kitchen areainterior north view